Lenovo is one of the biggest market leaders in the IT market and WIL had a pleasure to talk to Kirsten Perzi, Mid-Market Leader at Lenovo and also our alumni to our Women Talent Pool programme. If you are curious to learn what it takes to become a Market Leader and what sets Lenovo apart from its competitors, read our interview with Kirsten!
Could you tell me a little about your background and how you came to be the Mid-Market Leader (DACH) at Lenovo?
Since I finished my studies, I began working in the IT industry. I joined Lenovo ten years ago and I have had several roles within the company. Roughly three years ago, Lenovo set up a project team to create a business plan and to implement a strategy for mid-market customers. Over roughly two months, the business plans were created and developed, and I was chosen to implement them.
This was a great moment for me as it was a unique chance to create a complete new business like a start-up within Lenovo. This meant a lot of interesting challenges such as participating in the development of the tools which support the sales, hiring 25 people in a very short time frame and being confronted every day by new questions to be solved and answered.
I have been doing this for two and a half years now and it has been very successful execution of the plan as we continue to execute the initial strategy and develop it further.
What skills are necessary to become a successful Market Leader?
[e.g. technical skills, time management, leadership]
My responsibilities are to win as many new customers for Lenovo as possible. To achieve this, it is important to always have the big picture in mind, which means that I must balance the day to day business on one hand and the planning for the future on the other hand.
When taking the time to plan and develop, I have to take into account internal and external factors and ensure that we are working efficiently for our growth within the market circumstances, so that we are able to develop and become the choice of the customer.
To sum it up, to become a successful Market Leader, you need analytical skills, creativity, process knowledge, the will to question yourself on what you are doing and how you do it almost every day.
“Most importantly, your team must be motivated, given guidelines, rules and expectations and you must provide a vision of what you want to achieve”.
You have participated in the 3rd edition of WIL’s Women Talent Pool Programme, which has recently ended. What are your takeaways and which advice would you give to the participants of the 4th edition? [there will be 8 Lenovo participants to the 4th edition]
Being part of the programme was really enjoyable and provided me the opportunity to meet many women from not only the IT industry but from all backgrounds. Aside from the personal meetings, I really enjoyed the Webinars as they were a great opportunity for me to learn.
What I liked beyond the personal meetings were the Webinars which were a great opportunity to learn new things – sometimes things you thought you would not need to learn (“Stories that get you hired”).
Overall, the events created a new view on myself and my career. Before I participated, I was convinced that being a woman did not hold me back in my career but from the programme more and more I have noticed some small examples which were interesting, this insight was very important for me.
Bringing this back to one key moment, during a speech in Brussels, it was said ‘get out of your comfort zone and push your potential’.
“Something I have as a takeaway is that I can step out of my comfort zone and don’t have to wait for someone to ask me to”.
Coming back to your position as Mid-Market Leader, is technology creating more opportunities for the modern Marketers?
Definitely yes, even within my team this is clear. My team establishes a relation to the customer and as soon as there is a quote needed we work together with business partners, this interaction today is 100% digital in terms of creating quotes and contracts.
This for us has a huge impact as we are now able to talk more customers in more or less the same time and as a result we do sell more. As well, the marketing team implemented the Lead Nurturing Process, where potentially interested customers are digitally developed over time. This is something you had to do manually or on your own previously. However, today you are supported by technology which is really helping us to be more effective.
In this ever-challenging PC industry, what sets Lenovo apart from its competitors and which strategies does Lenovo adopt to gain competitive advantage?
I have been working in companies where every three to six months you have another strategy. This is not the case at Lenovo, as the strategy here is long term orientated and of course it is adapted over time. In practice, this means that business today is our core and we are already working on the business opportunities of tomorrow through a strategic long-term vision. In addition of PC and smart devices which is our core business, we expand now our activities in data center and mobile business following the acquisition a few years ago of IBM X86 servers and Motorola as well as more futuristic areas like augmented reality, virtual reality or artificial intelligence.
Within our culture called” the Lenovo Way” which defines common values, business practices and way of working, we value diversity and respect the differences of nationalities, profile, background, and gender! Thanks to our origin, we consider diversity as the DNA of the company with a specific focus on customer and innovation combined with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. For instance there are of many different nationalities in the senior management as a further demonstration of uniqueness, unusual for a company like Lenovo, and shows the strong belief that diversity and in particular gender diversity is a big differentiator – like the company’s slogan, ‘different is better’.